It’s amazing: only 15% of patients unable to get a GP appointment

In such stringent and resource rationed times “It’s amazing: only 15% of patients unable to get a GP appointment”, puts a positive slant on the worsening news. This situation is generated by the long-term denial of the politics of health and the need for more British doctors. NHSreality supports Norman Lamb’s suggestion. If another “commission” is formed it has to be pragmatic and found the future health services on a financially secure basis. The original ideology needs compromise.. By the way, General Practice is no longer an emergency service and the GPs have been deskilled – they could no longer carry out an emergency care function.

Kat Lay in The Times 8th Jan 2016 reports: Millions of patients struggle to secure an appointment with GP

Getting to see a family doctor is becoming increasingly difficult, according to a national survey which found that one in four patients struggled to get through to their surgery on the phone.

The latest GP patient survey from NHS England found that the proportion of patients able to obtain an appointment the last time they contacted their surgery was 85 per cent, down from 85.2 per cent last year and 87.6 per cent in June 2012.

With approximately 57 million patients registered with GPs in England, small shifts in satisfaction levels can represent thousands more patients struggling to see a doctor.

While 70.4 per cent of patients said it was easy to get through to their GP surgery on the phone, that compared with 71.8 per cent in January 2015. Some 25.8 per cent said it was not easy to get through. Almost three quarters of patients — 73.3 per cent — said that their overall experience of making an appointment was good, but this was a drop from 77.8 per cent in December 2012. Last year they were 73.8 per cent.

“The GP Patient Survey results continue to highlight the growing difficulty that our patients are facing when trying to make a GP appointment and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said. “Patients should be able to make an appointment to see their GP or practice nurse when they are sick, and often this is not something that can be predicted a week or more in advance,”

She added, however: “Over 91 per cent of patients have trust and confidence in their family doctor — as a profession, that is truly something that we should be very proud of, particularly against a backdrop of such intense resource and workforce pressures.” The falling ratings mirror rising concerns within the NHS about how thinly spread GP services are, with practices struggling to find qualified doctors to fill increasing vacancies. Reports this week showed that at least 100 surgeries had applied to NHS England to stop accepting new patients in 2014-15.

Overall the proportion of patients rating their experience with their GP as good remained high, at 85.2 per cent, while 77.7 per cent would recommend their surgery to someone who had just moved to the area. The figures represented a 0.3 and 0.4 per cent year-on-year decline, respectively.

Almost three quarters of patients — 74.8 per cent — were satisfied with their GP surgery’s opening hours, but this was down from 80.5 per cent in December 2012 and 75.7 per cent in January 2015.

Susan Robinson, of Healthwatch England, said: “The high satisfaction rates reported by the survey mirror much of what we hear from the public, but when local Healthwatch look deeper into people’s experiences they tell us there is room for improvement.

“Many still report difficulty being able to get a GP appointment, with people who are deaf and those with physical disabilities reporting particular problems.

“Our research has shown a huge appetite among the public to work with GPs and other health professionals to revolutionise the way access to primary care works, with patients looking for more online services, self-referrals for services such as physiotherapy and to be able to make better use of pharmacists.”

The survey found that more patients tended to book their appointments online — 6.5 per cent, up from 3.2 per cent in December 2012.

GP trainee map reveals stark north-south recruitment divide

Norman Lamb rattled by ‘zombie’ attack on health and care integration

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About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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